Do Better Work Today By Learning How to Prioritize
If you always struggle to finish up your work or spread yourself too thin with targets and new deadlines, then it is time to learn how to prioritize. When you’re swimming in a pool of unfinished work where every task seems to be as equally important, deciding which task to tackle first or later can be taxing.
Note that crossing off 7 out of 10 tasks on your to-do list without actually doing your best work will only give you a false sense of achievement. To avoid this, carefully read the following tips on how to prioritise for better results.
- Create a personalised to-do list:
This is general knowledge. People work better with a to-do list that carries the activities and plans for the day. Every day as you settle in for business, get a sheet of paper or sticker note and write down all you need to do so you do not forget anything that needs to be done. Make sure to focus only on the tasks for the day. Avoid crowding the list with the next day’s work.
- Estimate time needed for completion and map out deadlines:
What amount of time will you need to complete a task? You can easily decide this from your antecedent records and similar tasks already completed. Note the deadline for every task beside each item on the list. Give personal deadlines to the tasks without any official deadlines.
- Set your ranking:
Steve Covey in his book 7 Habits of Highly Effective People suggests ranking tasks using the following metrics: Important/not important and urgent/not urgent. While some tasks may be important and urgent, some may be equally important but not urgent. Prioritising your activities based on their importance and urgency helps to get more work done. If you have some junior workers under you, delegate some tasks to them to enable you to focus on the more important ones.
- Manage distractions:
To maintain a clear focus on the task at hand you need to get rid of every distraction. See our article 6 Ways to Beat Distractions and Maintain Focus at Work.
- Start with the simpler tasks:
Now that you have determined your metrics of importance and urgency, group the important and urgent tasks into two categories of ‘simple’ and ‘difficult’ tasks. Begin with the one that best suits your attention span. If starting with the hard tasks will wear you out easily, leaving you too fatigued to do any other thing, it is advisable to start with the simpler tasks. The feelings of achievement and satisfaction got from the completion of those tasks will serve as a motivation for the difficult ones.